GA4 is Coming: How to Prepare
June 7, 2022
In March 2022 Google announced that it plans to deprecate Universal Analytics (GA3) on July 1, 2023.
According to Google, Google Analytics 4 is the “next-generation measurement solution.” GA4 will automatically enrich your data using machine learning, allowing predictive metrics such as the probability that a website user will perform a conversion event within the next week, or whether they’re likely to remain active on your app or discontinue using it. It’s important to understand that as a prerequisite for predictive modeling, websites need to sustain a minimum number of users over time. Predictive measures may be unavailable to websites without sufficient traffic and engagement.
GA4 uses an event-based data model instead of the session-based data model used by Universal Analytics. One of the reasons is because increasing data privacy laws are making it harder to track users. Many browsers have already or are currently phasing out third-party cookies, and Google will discontinue using third-party cookies by the end of 2023. By design, GA4 makes it easier to comply with state and national privacy regulations.
GA4 also has the capability to support multiple web properties, including websites and apps. In contrast, UA requires separate properties for websites and apps. GA4 is also designed to identify cross-device user behavior, for example when a website visitor uses a desktop computer and then switches to a mobile device. This is intended to provide a more complete picture of the user journey.
What does this mean for business websites?
Your UA data will not carry over to GA4.
There is no way to “port over” your existing Universal Analytics data to the new platform. The only data GA4 will have to work with is what it collects on your website, so the earlier you start the better.
If your digital marketer hasn’t already done so, you should ask them to set up GA4 to run in parallel to UA as soon as possible. They should also make sure the same events and conversions are being tracked. At this point, by the time UA is deprecated, you’ll have a year or more of data to work with in GA4.
Google has said that Universal Analytics data will remain accessible for at least six months after the switch. You should export reports during that time so you can refer to historical UA data going forward.
GA4 will have different kinds of reports.
Universal Analytics “Goals” are going away, and GA4 will report events and conversions. Because data collection in GA4 works differently from UA, you’ll have to get used to analytics reports that look different and use some different terminology.
GA4 is a work in progress.
Google developers have been working on GA4 for years, and continue to release new features and reports. Part of the adjustment for digital marketers will be continual learning throughout ongoing GA4 updates and changes.
Is your website ready for GA4?
Google Analytics is a free tool that gives you access to valuable data about your website and app users. It’s an indispensable part of cost-effective digital marketing. If you don’t have GA4 installed on your site yet, or aren’t sure if you do, contact Concorde New Media. Our paid and organic search specialists stay current with the latest Google Analytics updates and announcements. Contact us to book a free 30-minute consultation, get answers to your questions and learn how we can leverage your website data to improve ROI.